Inclement weather pushed Saturday's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway back to Sunday, forcing racers off the track on its scheduled date. None of that was enough to stop Matt Kenseth, who ended the weekend with a huge victory in the Bluegrass State.
Kenseth has earned a reputation as a great intermediate track racer. Of those four wins, three have come on 1.5-mile courses:
Jimmie Johnson was the lead racer for most of the afternoon, leading a total of 182 laps. But a late spinout (which he blamed on Kenseth) after a restart forced him from the top and allowed Kenseth to usurp power.
Here's how it all went down at the end.
With under 30 laps remaining, Brian Vickers, who was running in the top 10, crashed into the wall, forcing a caution and giving cars an opportunity to pit:
Matt Kenseth won the battle off pit road, but did so after opting not to change his tires. It was a massive gamble from Kenseth and his crew, but it ended up paying off.
Jimmie Johnson, who had led 182 laps already up to that point, came off second after only getting two tires, as did the rest of the leaders. Johnson was the dominant racer all day, but the star ran into trouble on the restart, spinning out into Turn 2, forcing him to change more tires:
Johnson took his frustration out on Matt Kenseth, whom he blamed for slowing up the restart—an issue he's been outspoken about all season:
Kenseth came out from that caution in first once again, and even on worn-out tires, he proceeded to build a healthy lead. Even with the oldest tires on the track, the mile-a-and-a-half-savvy Kenseth continued to race at a nice speed.
Johnson, meanwhile, who started the caution back at 25, worked his way back up in a hurry, getting back into the top 10 with eight laps remaining. Without a caution to condense the field, Kenseth was sitting pretty.
Kenseth continued to hold his advantage and took the checkered flag, with Jamie McMurray running second. Here's a look at the full results.
|1.||Matt Kenseth||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2.||Jamie McMurray||1||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|3.||Clint Bowyer||15||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|4.||Joey Logano||22||Penske Racing|
|5.||Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|6.||Kurt Busch||78||Furniture Row Racing|
|7.||Martin Truex Jr.||56||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|8.||Jeff Gordon||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|9.||Jimmie Johnson||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|10.||Kevin Harvick||29||Richard Childress Racing|
|11.||Kasey Kahne||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|12.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||Hendrick Motorsports|
|13.||Marcos Ambrose||9||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|14.||Ryan Newman||39||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|15.||Aric Almirola||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|16.||Juan Pablo Montoya||42||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|17.||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|18.||Casey Mears||13||Germain Racing|
|19.||Jeff Burton||31||Richard Childress Racing|
|20.||Tony Stewart||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|21.||Carl Edwards||99||Roush Fenway Racing|
|22.||A.J. Allmendinger||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|23.||Danica Patrick||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|24.||Austin Dillon||51||Phoenix Racing|
|25.||David Stremme||30||Swan Racing|
|26.||David Ragan||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|27.||David Reutimann||83||BK Racing|
|28.||David Gilliland||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|29.||Ken Schrader||32||FAS Lane Racing|
|30.||Paul Menard||27||Richard Childress Racing|
|31.||Brian Vickers||55||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|32.||J.J. Yeley||36||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|33.||Brad Keselowksi||2||Penske Racing|
|34.||Greg Biffle||16||Roush Racing|
|35.||Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|36.||Landon Cassill||33||Circle Sport|
|37.||Joe Nemechek||87||NEMCO Sports|
|38.||Michael McDowell||98||Phil Parsons Racing|
|39.||Josh Wise||35||Front Row Motorsports|
|40.||Dave Blaney||7||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|41.||Mike Bliss||19||Humphrey Smith Racing|
|42.||Travis Kvapil||93||BK Racing|
|43.||Scott Riggs||44||XXXtreme Motorsport|
Results via NASCAR.com
Denny Hamlin's Bad Day
It was a long afternoon for Denny Hamlin, who started the race sixth but suffered calamity after calamity on the Speedway.
It started on Lap 38, where Hamlin's tire came apart and forced a caution. His issues caused damage to pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was running pretty well at the time and didn't need the interference:
Hamlin was given the lap back, something Earnhardt and Johnson—the two drivers affected by his debris—questioned since he was the one responsible for the caution:
Still, ever the optimist, Hamlin insisted he could come back:
That optimism was (relatively) short-lived, though, as Lap 149 brought more doom for Hamlin's car, which never seemed to run properly all day. The car got up under him, and Hamlin went crashing, unprompted, into the wall on Turn 4, causing yet another yellow flag:
He finished the afternoon in 35th place, 29 spots below his starting position.
Big Wreck Causes Red Flag
Lap 48 brought the race's most unfortunate wreck. Kurt Busch tapped Brad Keselowski on the inside, spinning Keselowski down below the track.
His car emitting smoke, Keselowski spun uncontrollably back up into the track, crashing viciously into Greg Biffle and setting a fire in the wreckage behind him:
Check out this pretty sweet photo of the air Keselowski got during the hit:
The wreck was so ugly that the Associated Press tweeted Keselowski's race was over. But Kes responded in turn with his intentions to head back out:
All in all, the wreck caused nearly 20 minutes of time under the red flag:
But Keselowski proved his tweet right, eventually, and re-entered the race on a lap 158 caution:
Kenseth won his fourth race of the season, becoming the new leader in Sprint Cup, and posting his highest total since 2002:
He currently sits fifth in the Sprint Cup Standings with 528 points, looking up at Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and, of course, Jimmie Johnson.
Here is the full top 10:
|1.||Jimmie Johnson||610||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2.||Carl Edwards||572||Roush Fenway Racing|
|3.||Clint Bowyer||569||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|4.||Kevin Harvick||544||Richard Childress Racing|
|5.||Matt Kenseth||528||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|6.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||512||Hendrick Motorsports|
|7.||Kyle Busch||500||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|8.||Martin Truex Jr.||490||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|9.||Greg Biffle||489||Roush Fenway Racing|
|10.||Joey Logano||479||Penske Racing|
Standings via NASCAR.com
There was no movement among the top five, but Greg Biffle fell from sixth to ninth with his poor result. That result came via the crash on Lap 48, which he could do nothing to avoid; sometimes that's just how the cookie crumbles.
Joey Logano vaulted up four spots with his fourth-place finish, becoming the only new member of the top 10. Brad Keselowski, also a part of that awful wreck, made room by dropping down to 13th.
Next week brings the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. Tony Stewart is the defending champion.